Jennie Epp – Historic Carnton Plantation
Project Process Essay by Jennie Epp
When I first got the assignment for this project I considered doing a continuation of my Historian’s Craft paper. The paper I wrote for Historian’s Craft dealt with the issues facing Mennonite service men in World War II. Although this project would have been interesting, I felt like I would face the same problems that I had faced when writing the paper. That is, being able to contact the primary sources, being as many Mennonite’s that I know personally live in the Midwest. So I decided to do a project for the Carnton Plantation. The reason I chose Carnton is that I wanted to show people the history that is in their own backyard. This desire could have been used with any project. Being originally from Nebraska and now living in Tennessee, I have always been shocked at the nonchalant attitude that southerners have toward their own history. They either look at it with disregard, or with such strong opinions that the opinions have overtaken historical fact. So, with Carnton Plantation and with the Battle of Franklin in general, my goal was to create a general flier. This flier was to be used in connection with the already well produced product that the Battle of Franklin Trust already had in place. The product itself is a threefold brochure/flier that uses a few pictures and dialog. I used Microsoft Word, because of the templates that they offer. I tried three different formats, including a one sided flier, but I felt as though it was mostly pictures and did not give much information. My target age group was fifth and sixth graders. In addition to formats, I played around with the various color patterns. I had originally intended to do something fun and preppy for the colors, but it really seemed to cheapen the fact that Carnton is a cemetery. So I ended up with a more sophisticated color scheme and backdrop. I think that really helps the brochure/flier.
One of the major problems I had with this project been that many of the pictures that I wanted to use was the copyright issue. Carnton Plantation is part of the Battle of Franklin Trust but it is still a privately owned historical site that is not owned by the state. This created a whole other set of problems.Another problem was that I do not have much experience working with creating things for kids. I assume that kids are just smaller more excitable versions of me. Little adults who just need a little help to show them how awesome history is and can be for them. My project really suffered throughout with a sense of direction. I knew what I wanted, but their seemed to be a lot of obstacles that came across my path that I did not expect. That being said, one of the greatest things about my flier/brochure is that I believe I have created something that will appeal to kids. This is something that three months ago I would not of thought possible, I don’t do projects for kids, I understand that I am not gifted like some people are in that area. This project has been fun because I think; I have successfully done just that. Combining the inspiring story of the McGavick family, while remaining true to the other fliers and information that the other fliers that the Battle of Franklin Trust utilizes, and a sophisticated but whimsical design that would appeal to kids.
My favorite thing about this project was that I was able to go to one of my favorite places on earth. I love the whole history of the Battle of Franklin. I have been to Gettysburg, and Richmond, but this battle seems to be so underplayed in the history of the Civil War. The casualty rates, the importance of the battle itself, and above all the human element, truly represent in a sense what this class is all about. The public aspect of history, if the battle had just taken place in a desolate field with no one near the importance might be lessoned. The thing, I believe, that makes this battle important is the family story of the McGavick’s. A family who was not only willing to stay and help the wounded and dying, but would use their own money to give the Confederate soldiers who died, a proper burial, long after the soldiers had been buried in common graves.
My least favorite aspect of the project was the fact that I think that it could have turned out better. I am really disappointed that my pictures and how I pictured the project did not end up turning out to be what I had in my mind. I like what I did but the perfectionist in me is a little disappointed. I think if I could go back and redo the project, I would go with my first option on the Mennonite service men. That being said the benefits far outweigh the cons for this project. I have a mastery of Word 2007 brochure templates that I did not have at the start of this semester and even if my project does not get used. I think that I have gained skills in dealing with privately owned historical sites, as well as an appreciation for those people who do these fliers for a living. This project does not really add to the general public’s understanding of the Battle of Franklin, this project was never about new knowledge but about getting the word out about this amazing story that is right in most people’s backyard.